Third and Fourth Degree Tears

Women's Medical Negligence
  • Types Of Tears:

    1st degree tear – this can be a small nick or abrasion. They usually heal themselves and shouldn’t require a stitch.

    2nd degree tear – includes skin and muscle tissue damage. You may require stitches and it usually takes in or around 2 months to recover. An episiotomy is where the perineum is intentionally cut in order to facilitate delivery. An episiotomy involves the same muscle and tissue as a 2nd degree tear.

    3rd degree tear – third degree tears is a tear or laceration through the perineum muscles and the muscles which surround the anus. Third degree tears can be further sub-divided into 3a, 3b and 3c tears, depending upon how far the injury extends into the anal sphincter:

    • 3a: partial tear of the external sphincter involving less than 50% thickness
    • 3b: tear of the external sphincter involving more than 50% thickness
    • 3c: external and internal sphincter torn

    4th degree tear – a fourth degree tear extends completely through to the anus, tearing the internal and external sphincter and, on occasion, the internal wall of the rectum or bowel.

  • It is not possible to predict or to prevent a 3rd or 4th degree tears but there are factors that make these tears more likely for example, you have an assisted birth, you have a large baby or the second stage of labour is long. The NICE Guidelines 2011 advise that women should be accommodated with a c section if there is an indication that baby will be large.

    Sometimes these tears can be missed and never repaired or, badly repaired. This leads to serious complications for the mother. The most common complaints are incontinence and/or faecal urgency. Many women suffer in silence, it can take a long time before a woman is ready to discuss these problems with her medical advisors.  It is a very troubling and painful time. Some women, especially first time mothers believe that these injuries are part and parcel of giving birth. It is crucial that these serious tears are treated by a surgeon using the correct facilities.

  • Emma Meagher is one of Ireland’s leading Medical and Clinical Negligence Solicitors who deal with many high profile cases, specifically birth injury due to Clinical Negligence* during pregnancy or Clinical Negligence* during labour and also gynaecology injuries.

    Many of the procedures that lead to claims under this heading are described by practitioners as “routine”. Unfortunately, the consequences of an accident in medical care are extremely serious.

    Perusing a Medical Negligence* case can be a very personal and lonely battle for the woman involved and her family, bringing extra stress and strain to an already difficult family life.

    Emma is known to be “on call” outside office hours to speak to her clients who are under stress and will make sure that that the best experts from Ireland, the UK and United States are available to bring your case to court.

What Our Clients Say

Our Legal Staff

  • James McSweeney has a special interest in Medical and Clinical Negligence* claims. Prior to setting up his own practice in 2007, James managed one of  Ireland’s leading specialist Medical Negligence* and Personal Injury* firms. He has experience in all Courts from the District Court to the Supreme Court, including the Supreme Court case of Roche –v- Roche.  This is, arguably, the most important legal case in the history of the Irish State.  In his Judgement, the Chief Justice noted that the issues raised were… “profound and complex on novel aspects of birth, the right to life and reproductive rights”.  This is the case that finally decided the status of the unborn in Irish Law.

    James has been at the cutting edge of developing innovative and quicker ways of winning cases for victims of medical accidents. The systems he has developed enable his Clients to prosecute their cases with confidence.

  • Emma Meagher, from Boherlahan, Co Tipperary, has been appointed as Partner heading up the Women’s Medical Negligence Unit at James McSweeney Solicitors. Emma joined James McSweeney Solicitors in 2008.  She quickly established herself as an invaluable member of the Team and is now recognised as one of Ireland’s leading Medical Negligence Solicitors.

    Throughout her early years in the legal business, Emma developed and refined her keen interest in helping women who have suffered as a result of negligence during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.  As a result, in 2015, Emma established a unique, mother-focused, legal advice unit and has built a support team with a wealth of interest and experience specialising in obstetrics and the Law.

    Emma brings a professional and empathic approach to her work. She has regularly featured in various national publications and is consulted widely by media contributors on Medical Negligence Law.

    A mother of two young boys, away from work Emma can be found most Saturday mornings watching football training at Wicklow Rovers and likes to spend afternoons with her family exploring the Wicklow countryside and beaches. She balances her busy work life with a love of cooking, literature, art and horse racing, especially flat racing.

    Happy to give something back to the Community she finds the time to volunteer with the Free Legal Aid Board and also offers free legal advice to the London Irish Centre, Camden.

    Emma Meagher is a member of the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association, Irish Women’s Lawyers Association and the Medico-Legal Society of Ireland.

  • Adrina is a member of the Irish Institute of Legal Executives and has been a part of the James McSweeney Solicitors team for 10 years.  Adrina works exclusively in the areas of Medical Negligence* and Personal Injury* litigation.

    Adrina’s level of commitment to her clients and colleagues has earned her a reputation for hard work and attention to detail.  Adrina liaises closely with clients and experts during the Injuries Board process, preparing cases for trial and also attending settlement discussions at the Four Courts. Adrina has had tremendous success in dealing with Infant Rulings before both the Circuit and High Courts.

    Outside of working hours, Adrina is a keen equestrian and regularly partakes in competitions.

  • Fiona has been with James McSweeney Solicitors from the start (2007) and is an integral part of the practice. Fiona works closely with the Principal, James,  working in the area of Medical Negligence* and Litigation*. Fiona also works closely with experts, preparing cases for trial. She is known to look after our Clients with care and compassion, making sure they are kept up to date on the progress of their cases from start to finish.

  • Danielle started at James McSweeney Solicitors in 2020 and is a Legal Assistant to our Partner Emma Meagher.  Danielle is very experienced and has been working in the legal field for almost 15 years. Danielle is as a highly motivated person and enjoys dealing with people. She likes to work in a fast paced team environment and is extremely client focused with a high attention to details.

  • Megan joined James McSweeney Solicitors in 2018 after completing a B.A in English, Sociology & Politics. Megan works as a Legal Assistant and also at reception. She works primarily in Conveyancing but also helps out in Medical Negligence and Litigation. At reception, Megan is the first point of contact when you contact our firm and is extremely friendly and helpful to our clients.



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